What can the history of Britain tell us about the history of modernity? Why is British history in fact a global history (or, how did two small islands come to rule one fifth of the world)? After the end of empire, is Britain a nation in decline or a nation that is continually reinventing itself?
This course offers a survey of the political, social, economic, and cultural history of Britain since the beginning of the eighteenth century and traces the movement into modernity. We will explore these questions by examining not only the key events of modern British history, but how the representation of those events in different media reveal a conflicted narrative of the evolution of "Britain" in the Anglo- and Anglophone world. In this chronological course, we will consider intellectual and cultural contexts, as well as bringing in different approaches and perspectives, such as the history of medicine, colonial and gendered histories, and identity politics. Topics we will cover include the Acts of Union, the Jacobite Rising, the Napoleonic Wars, imperial expansion, the Slavery Abolition Act, the Industrial Revolution, the development of mass literacy, the Edwardian era, the First World War, the Second World War and the Blitz, the end of empire, the Sexual Revolution and the Swinging Sixties, and contemporary multicultural Britain. Primary sources will include speeches, newspaper articles, literature, letters, visual culture (paintings, films, photographs), music, monuments and maps.